There is somewhat of a myth surrounding Disney’s relationship with Universal on the East Coast, with many believing the two theme park operators are fierce rivals in the Central Florida area.
Of course this couldn’t be further from the truth, in fact rather than the two being competitors they are actually partners in Orlando-area tourism industry and if one were to shut up shop then there’s no doubt the other would suffer as a consequence.
This summer is set to be a prime example of just how linked the two resorts are after Universal recently opened the ‘Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ at their Islands of Adventure Park.
Although the Wizarding World is just one new land in a resort that can boast two world-class theme parks thanks to the strength of the Harry Potter brand the new area is drawing in visitors from all over the world who are looking to enjoy the magic of the Potter universe.
Even if the new Potter land is based at a ‘rival’ park its success is still fantastic for Walt Disney World, SeaWorld and the Orlando tourism industry as a whole as the boy wizard has successfully managed to rejuvenate tourist’s interest in Central Florida at a time when the travel industry has been on its knees.
Many people who regularly visited Walt Disney World felt the need to cut back on their trips due to the recession, not to mention the lucrative long-distance travellers who simply couldn’t afford the increasingly expensive cost of air travel into Orlando.
What The Wizarding World did was give those travellers a reason to return to Central Florida for the first time since the banking crisis which started in 2007. Many who may never have thought about planning an Orlando vacation found it justifiable because of the new Harry Potter land.
Whilst Universal took the credit those around them reaped, and will continue to reap, the rewards.
Despite the new attractions being located on Universal property Disney will no doubt feel the benefits, with many guests who have been lured to Orlando by the Wizarding World booking resort stays on Disney property so they can also visit the mouse whilst on vacation, not to mention the increased numbers walking through the turnstiles.
Disney’s size gives it an advantage in the fact that many will feel a trip to Universal simply isn’t enough for a whole vacation and will instead decide to spend a large amount of time over in the World whilst taking a few days to hop over to Universal, meaning Disney gain huge financial rewards without spending incredible amounts.
Local hoteliers will also benefit from ‘Potter-mania’ as Universal simply doesn’t have the capacity at their resort hotels to deal with the kind of numbers heading to see Harry and the gang. Many will chose to stay at hotels on International Drive, the 192 and other locations around the Orlando area – giving a much-needed boost to the smaller players in the industry.
When Universal Studios first opened Disney took out an ad in the Orlando Sentinel stating ‘Welcome Universal Studios Florida – What’s good for tourism and entertainment is good for Central Florida’ and The Wizarding World is a prime example.